It’s a term I’d never heard before becoming a mom. Truth be told, I wasn’t a ‘prepared’ mom. I didn’t spend my pregnancy reading up on child development and parenting. I tracked the weeks and ‘fruit size’ of my growing bubs and that was about it. My husband and I were of the mindset that we’d learn about parenting through experience. And if I can be completely candid, we didn’t even know ‘parenting styles’ were even a thing. When people asked what kind of parents we planned to be, we answered with a confident, “Ugh, good parents. Duh.”
In a way our lack of a ‘plan’ was a blessing because when our little man did arrive, every expectation we could have was flip turned upside down. When you deliver a premature baby, your idea of what baby life will be like gets rocked. Regardless of how long your baby spends in the NICU, the timeline of starting life as a family at home changes. And all those typical milestones? They get tossed aside because your tiny human has his or her own set of preemie milestones to follow.
We found ourselves following a baby-led approach without much thought about our little man compared to other babies. It wasn’t until his cheeks filled in, his delicate cry gave way to a healthy set of lungs, his newborness faded, and his colicy days subsided, that I really realized how different he was from all the other babies I knew or saw . . . And I’m somewhat ashamed to admit, I began to question everything.
Why is my baby so different?
Why is he so much more vocal? Fussier? Less content than seemingly every other baby out there?
Why won’t he let me set him down for more than 30 sec? Or lay peaceably on a blanket, content to stare at the world around him?
What am I doing wrong?
My questions piled up. My anxiety intensified. Was I so terrible a mom that I’d already messed things up only months into mom life? I found my fingers reaching out to Google, desperate for answers. I searched and searched until my eyes fell on words ‘High-Needs Baby’.
A brief read into Dr. Sears’ overview of this very unique baby personality, and I exhaled for perhaps the first time since bringing my little man home. Inevitably, the tears began to
This was my baby! He wasn’t alone in his insatiable need for everything! To be held constantly without break. To be nursed non-stop. To be ever in motion (read: bounded in mom’s arms because a rocker or bouncy chair is unacceptable). To be heard. I hadn’t done anything wrong. My little man just danced to his tiny drum. And he was just wired differently! I just needed to stop trying to fit him into the typical baby mold. Stop thinking I had to follow what everyone else was doing. Stop blaming myself for every little thing.
I’d love to go further into detail about the characteristics of a high-needs baby, but that is it’s own post. If you’re dying to (need to know out of necessity because you yourself have found that your baby is unlike any other baby you know), I highly, highly recommend The Fussy Baby book by Dr. Sears. Despite its title, it gives such a wonderful insight on this very unique personality.
The real reason behind this post is to encourage mommas out there who are struggling and feeling like they are doing it all wrong.
Maybe your baby isn’t quite high-needs. Maybe your struggle is realizing your parenting style is the complete opposite of what you wanted, expected, or planned it to be.
Just know that you are not alone in whatever it is you’re going through. 17 months in and having had countless discussions with other new mommas, I have come to realize that we’re all in the same boat. Even seasoned mommas can be thrown for a loop by having a baby with a personality unlike their other children, or realize that their parenting style has evolved since their last child.
It’s okay . . . To feel lost. To not have all the answers. To take advice from other. To take advice selectively. To do things that work best for your family, even if your way isn’t the norm.
I am of course no expert, but what I can advise is to follow your instincts.
Trust yourself momma. Your family and your sanity depend on it!